Borders residents will be given a unique opportunity to gain insight into the life of a farmer in the developing world this Fairtrade Fortnight.
Ugandan coffee farmer Justine Watalunga will be visiting the Borders from Monday, February 25, until Thursday, February 28, offering a rare glimpse into a world a far cry from the towns and villages of southern Scotland.
Justine, 49, is one of four producers who will be visiting the UK as part of Fairtrade Fortnight (February 25 - March 10), when they will visit and hold talks at numerous schools, businesses and conferences during their stay.
Justine has a busy life as mother to six children while looking after four orphans, on top of her daily job as a coffee farmer and treasurer of Konokoyi Growers Co-operative Society. Konokoyi is one of 11 co-operatives affiliated to Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative Growers Co-operative, which produces coffee for Cafédirect instant coffee and Equal Exchange’s Mt Elgon Gumutindo Ground Coffee.
Justine will be touring across the whole of the Borders, speaking at and taking part in discussions at events in Duns, Selkirk, Lamancha, Newtown St Boswells and Hawick.
This year Fairtrade is asking people to ‘Go Further’ by trying a Fairtrade product they’ve not bought before. They can raise awareness of Fairtrade or ask their local shopkeeper or MP to go further for Fairtrade Fortnight themselves.
Kirstin Scott, from the Borders Fairtrade Steering Group which is working towards achieving Fairtrade Zone status in the Borders, said: “Justine is going further this Fairtrade Fortnight by travelling all this way to give people in the Borders an invaluable opportunity to hear about life as a farmer in the developing world, and how the UK’s buying patterns can affect her daily life.
“Justine is an inspirational woman with many stories to tell, and we are very excited to be welcoming her to Scotland. We would love for those in the Borders to go further too by coming along to the events and seeing the difference Fairtrade can make to the lives of Justine and her fellow farmers.”
Justine added: “The Fairtrade Premium is like a miracle to us; it comes directly into our hands. It is an acknowledgement of our work, of what we are capable of and who we are. It is important to us, so to have the opportunity to meet with people who buy our coffee is just incredible. I am looking forward to experiencing Scottish life.”
Michael Moore, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “It’s great to hear that Justine Watalunga is visiting the Borders and sharing her inspirational story about life as a Fairtrade farmer. I am sure that her visit will encourage local people to buy Fairtrade and, for those who already do, to ‘Go Further’ and try new Fairtrade products. I have supported the Fairtrade label for many years because by choosing these products we can help people like Justine work their way out of poverty. I am sure that everyone who meets Ms Watalunga will be inspired to get involved and help producers in developing countries get a fair price.”
John Lamont, MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, added: “We are incredibly lucky to have Justine come and visit us here in the Borders. She can give us a real insight into just how hard it is to be a farmer in a country such as Uganda, and how much help the extra money she received from the Fairtrade movement is. I would encourage everyone to attend one of her talks and learn more about her life and experiences. Fairtrade Fortnight is all about promoting Fairtrade goods, and raising awareness of this great campaign, and I could think of no better way to do this then to listening to someone who has first-hand experience of the benefit it provides.”
One of the public meetings will be held at The Berwickshire High School in Duns on Wednesday, February 27, starting at 7.30pm.
For more information on Fairtrade Fortnight, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk/gofurther